School of Music, Theatre and Dance

Oakland University to present musical ‘Yo, Vikings!' on May 19 and 21

Production will include sensory-friendly and shadow-signed performances

icon of a calendarMay 1, 2023

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Oakland University to present ‘Yo, Vikings!,’ a musical, on May 19 and 21
The words Yo, Vikings! with a viking helmet as a decoration.
Oakland University will present ‘Yo, Vikings!,’ a musical, on May 19 and 21.

Come set sail on May 19 and 21 as Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance presents Yo, Vikings!, a fantastic adventure that combines sweeping melodies, thrilling Viking chants, and funky rock ‘n roll with a beautiful, heart-warming story to engage and excite every member of the family.

Based on Judith Byron Schachner’s acclaimed book and the true story that inspired it, Yo, Vikings! is the story of Emma Katz, a spunky little girl with a limitless imagination. After being assigned Erik the Red for her World Discovery Day report, she begins to channel her inner Viking and sets off on a fantastic voyage of self-discovery.

“Emma looks at life through the eyes of an adventurer,” said Rachel Sarles, who plays Emma in the production. “In this story, Emma discovers how to embrace her own identity as she navigates the challenges of being an outgoing and creative adolescent. I feel very connected to her journey, and I am drawn to stories that celebrate authenticity in young children. I want to represent her in a way that encourages the youth and adults to express themselves freely and unapologetically.”

Yo, Vikings! is suggested for children ages 6 and up.

“The very special thing about this play for me is that it was grown out of a commission from Upper Darby Summer Stage in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, where myself and my brother (book writer and librettist Marcus Stevens) grew up doing theatre,” said Director Rachel Stevens, visiting assistant professor of theatre at OU.

Yo, Vikings! is not only based on a children’s book, but real life events that took place in my home town of Swarthmore, Penn, “ Stevens added. “Both Marcus and I have such a personal connection to the material that it is absolutely incredible to be sharing it with the OU community of audiences and with our students.”

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for seniors, and $6 for students and children, and can be purchased online at Performances will be held on the Oakland University campus in Varner Recital Hall, located at 371 Varner Drive in Rochester.

“Another very special thing about this production is that we will be working with the company Stage Hands, shadow signers (formerly Synergy on Stage) in a tradition that has gone on at OU for over 20 years,” Stevens said. “As a company, Stage Hands works with theatrical productions to incorporate sign language in a more holistic and dramaturgical way. They are totally immersed in the staging and storytelling. I’m really excited for this collaboration and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with them”

OU Theatre will also be piloting its first relaxed performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 21. This performance is specifically designed to create a welcoming and inclusive theatre experience for individuals with sensory needs, including individuals on the autism spectrum. Modifications include lower sound level, low lights (not off), space throughout the theatre for standing and movement, and access to resource materials to prepare for your visit and upon arrival. Sensory processing toys and noise cancelling headphones are welcome.

“We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to continue making theatre experiences at OU enjoyable, equitable and inclusive for all patrons,” Stevens said.

Learn more about what you can expect in our Visual Story: My Trip to the Theater guide

Performance Schedule

• Friday, May 19 at 10 a.m.

• Friday, May 19 at 7 p.m. – Pajama Performance (All are welcome to wear their pajamas and bring in a blanket and stuffed animal for a cozy nighttime show. This performance will also be shadow-signed for the Deaf by Stage Hands)

• Sunday, May 21 at 2 p.m. – Relaxed Performance (This performance will also be shadow-signed for the Deaf by Stage Hands)

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